research for writing
February 27, 2013
Research can be a mixed bag. There are always exciting gems to be discovered, but if you find yourself writing about an obscure enough topic, you may not find anything at all. In the Harry and Marlowe stories, I’m writing about an actual historical figure — but the only comprehensive biography about her is in Norwegian. If I want to know more about Maud of Wales, I have to come at it sideways. This week, I’m excited because I got a package in the mail, an out-of-print book that I managed to find and order:
Maud is the one in the middle, with her two older sisters, Victoria and Louise. This is the book that’s going to help me write more Harry and Marlowe stories. I’m to a point in the sequence where I need to know more about her family, her relationships with her siblings, her grandmother, and the political situation of the real history and how I can use that to shape the alternate history. I’ll learn more about Maud, and about her brother George, who also appears in the stories. I’m only a couple chapters in and I’ve already learned a bunch.
- Maud knew Russian.
- George had a productive career in the Navy. On an early training voyage, he tried to bring a pet kangaroo home from Australia to give to his sisters.
- I had forgotten that her oldest brother Prince Albert Victor has been proposed as a possible candidate for the identity of Jack the Ripper in some of the wilder Ripper theories. (This is a very wild claim, as he was most likely not even in London during the murders.)
- Her father, Edward VII, was a bit profligate and there were very likely at least a couple of illegitimate half siblings.
- She was an avid chess player and a patron of the International Ladies Chess Congress. In other news, there was an International Ladies Chess Congress.
And all the photos of young Maud and her family are just wonderful. She always seems to have this very impatient look in her eye, as if she’s thinking, “Pictures are silly, let’s get on with it.” This is all stuff I can use. Bwah ha ha!